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A Remedy for Blogger Inferiority Complex

Yesterday I wrote about the problem of blogger inferiority complex and how often as bloggers we can limit our potential by defining ourselves negatively.

Today I want to get a little more constructive and suggest a remedy for this common problem. In doing so I want to help those of us who struggle with a negative self view to make a mind-shift in our thinking.

How do you become more positive in the way that you think about yourself and your blog?

Today I want to suggest two starting points in tackling this problem. Tomorrow I’ll wrap up this mini-series with a third.

1. Identify What You Have:

Identify-What-You-Have.jpg There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be something that you’re not, learn something that you don’t know or achieve something that you’ve not achieved before – however sometimes when we’re focusing upon what we don’t have we lose sight of the very thing that could be the key to us going to the next level – what we do have.

When I was in my late teens and early 20′s I spent a lot of time worrying about what I didn’t have and comparing myself to others. As I look back on the way that I lived my life at this time I realized that the motivation for many of the things that I did was that I wanted to be like someone else. The result was a complete mess. I ended up spending so much of my time aspiring to be or have something that those around me were or had that I stopped being Darren.

The realization that I came to was that defining myself by what I didn’t have or by what someone else was wasn’t working. What I did find that worked however was defining myself by who actually was and starting with what I already had.

I went through a process with a small group of friends of rediscovering myself, learning what my strengths were, identifying my passions, reflecting upon the experiences that I had had and looking at what I’d learned. I found that as I began to focus more upon these positive things that I became more positive.

As bloggers I think that many of us need to make this same mind-shift and focus less upon what we don’t have and more upon what we do – and then to build from there.

Are You Focusing More Upon What You’re Not than What You Are as a Blogger?

Firstly, let me say that you’re not alone.

Secondly let me suggest a series of questions that you might like to set aside some time to reflect upon to help you rediscover who you are as a blogger:

1. What has Worked On Your Blog? – Sometimes the key to your success is something that you’ve already done that had a spark of energy to it but which still needs a little more work. Look back over the blog posts that you’ve written and identify those that ‘worked’. It might be those that got linked to by another blog or two, it might be a post that got a few extra comments or it could be something that you enjoyed more than other posts even if no one else noticed. Once you’ve identified some of these posts ask yourself why they worked. Is there a common theme or some identifiable lessons that you can learn that you might emulate again?

2. What do you know about? – A great way to answer this one is to think about the questions that people ask you and seek advice from you on. What knowledge and expertise have you gathered in your life so far?

3. What things do you love to talk about? – What topic do your conversations always turn to? Not sure? Ask a close friend what they think your ‘pet topic’ is. What do conversations keep coming back to you no matter how hard they try to change the topic? These topics are obviously things that you have some passion for – perhaps they are what you should be blogging about.

4. What formative experiences have you had? – Often the things that make us most interesting are the things we’ve done in our past. The places you’ve been, the jobs you’ve had, the study that you’ve done, the people that you’ve met etc. Don’t just think about the positive experiences but some of the hard ones too because sometimes it’s through the most painful times of life that we discover purpose and learn lessons that shape our future.

5. Who do you know? – Don’t focus upon the bloggers you don’t know – start with those you do. What have you studied formally? What have you read about? What have you gathered knowledge on in your work, recreation, friendship groups?

6. What readers do you have? – it’s easy to focus upon the thousands of readers that you don’t have, but what about those that you do? Even if you only have 3 and one of them is your Mother – you’ve got people logging into your blog every day to read what you have to say! Not only that, they each have a network of relationships that they could potentially tell about your blog.

7. What problems do you have? What problems have you overcome? – one of the most powerful things that you can do as a blogger is to help people solve problems. The problems that you are best equipped to solve are those that you have had (or have) that you’re overcoming for yourself.

8. What have you achieved? – achievements are not everything but they can certainly be helpful when you’re blogging because you can draw upon them or the lessons you learned in them in your writing. Don’t just focus on the big achievements either – sometimes the small things we’ve done are most important.

9. What sets you apart? – sometimes we focus upon our differences as negatives – but how could they be used for your own good? We operate in a medium where there are millions of others competing for attention – being different is good. It might be how you look, it might be how you live your life, it could be where you live or some other aspect of your life that you’ve been getting down on yourself about. How can you ‘flip it’ to your advantage?

10. What type of personality do you have? – you are wired a certain way – so identify how that is and learn to work to it’s strengths. If you’re a quiet, introverted and reflective person, let your blogging reflect this with posts that are a little more reflective and thoughtful. If you’re loud, brash and opinionated – go with that too! If you can make people laugh – do that in your blogging! Don’t try to be someone that you’re not – start with who you are.

11. What Resources do you have? – what do you have at your disposal that you can use in your blogging? I started out blogging on a 10 year old PC that crashed after 30 minutes of running and dial-up internet connection… and that’s a lot more than many bloggers have. I know bloggers who would answer this question with the answer that they have a membership in a local library that gives them 30 minutes internet connection every weekday. Rather than looking at what you don’t have in terms of tools and resources – start with what you do have and build from there. It might be a computer, internet connection, video or digital camera, a MP3 recorder… or it could be friendship with people who do.

Identifying some of the things that you DO have can be an uplifting experience. While we might be naturally drawn to answer the above questions with negativity – force yourself to look at the positives for a little bit and make a list of what you have. But it doesn’t end there….

2. Build upon what you have

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Identifying what you do have is a very worthwhile exercise – but it’s not enough if you want to grow to your potential.

The key to the lives of many successful people that I’ve met is that they take what they do have (as meager as that may be) and turn it into something worthwhile by building it.

  • It might be taking a simple skill and doing it until they’re blue in the face
  • It might be taking a passion and hunch and following it to see where it leads
  • It might be taking a simple resource and using it for all it’s worth

For me as a blogger is was like this:

I started out with:

  • a dodgy computer and dialup internet access
  • an interest and a little knowledge in photography (I’d studied it as a 16 year old for a semester)
  • some spare time in the evenings when I wasn’t working one of my 3 part time jobs or studying
  • a little experience in communicating
  • half a degree in Marketing (I quit half way – my only other training was in Theology)
  • a little experience of blogging on a personal blog

I took that muddled collection of things and began to blog about digital cameras. I made a lot of mistakes but I became more and more determined to take what I did have and to build upon it. As a result things began to grow.

The Story Continues – But First…. Some Homework

As I said above – tomorrow I’m going to finish this series with one more tip for overcoming Blogger Inferiority Complex. I was going to include it in this post but I think that before getting to the last suggestion it’d be well worth pondering the first two steps.

While you wait for the last part in the series take a little time out today to work through them – particularly the series of 11 questions that I suggested and pondering how you can build on them. I’d love to hear what you discover!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Farfield says:

    Thanks Darren, great info. I am wondering though about a few points. When you really just started, like me, and have been blogging for just over a month, you don’t really have an idea of who read your blog, because you don’t get a lot of visitors and comments, and thus you also can’t identify what has worked before and what hasn’t.

    I know there is no way of just starting to write and get noticed immediately, but I have to say it takes more time than I expected to get some readers, and comments etc.

  2. David Shaw says:

    I spent alot of time looking at BIG blogs thinking, what do they have that I don’t?

    I then decided that I am me, and that I should be comparing myself to other bloggers.

    I write for me now! – Not trying to be like anyone else!

  3. MrCooker says:

    Thanks for the information Darren. The 11 questions you asked sure helps in writing better posts for you and your readers.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.

  4. Hey, wow! I loved that piece Darren. I can actually completely relate. In my early twenties I was much the same. Always comparing myself to others. Looking back, it does seem like such a waste of time. Then again, I think most of us sort of go through stages such as that.

    Thanx for the informative tips at reviewing my own blog as well. You have got my thinking cap on, once again. As always, love your blog.

    Cheers
    Davin

  5. Bill says:

    Darren,

    While this clearly applies to blogging, I feel you have opened up an avenue to challenge us not just in our blogging activities, but in life in general. I have been guilty of being the “what don’t I have” mentality – and have been working harder and harder on changing to a “what do I have, what can I do and how can I apply that to what I want” mentality.

    Needless to say, a week or so ago I was post about needing a down payment for a harley-davidson – the down payment has been accomplished, and in the process I have updated my blog layout, updated the monetization of it, increased traffic, doubled my feedburner subscriptions and more.

    It’s this outlook that either makes us or breaks us not just as bloggers, but as people in general. Thanks for such a wonderful topic and post!!

  6. Muscle Post says:

    Great insight Darren! We all need to take a look at the experiences and knowledge we have and build upon it, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or what we want to be. If you stay focused on your goals and your strengths, you are on the right path to success.

  7. axileon says:

    so the ultimate determining factor is still persistence? stay with blogging??

    hm… i really wonder how will blogging evolve over the next 5 to 10 years.. at the rate that technology is evolving, its really interesting to even just watch….this new media channel grow with time….

  8. I think the main problem with the whole inferiority complex is the fact that the big bloggers have so much media glitz around them.

    When I first got into blogging a year ago, I just kept reading about top blogs: Lifehacker, Engadget, Problogger, and on and on…so of course you will compare yourself!

    And then you read the probabilities that people like to quote on how only a puny fraction of blogs ever get to their level, then you feel even worse!

    It’s the same thing like Bill is saying about life in general, the media makes you always want what you don’t have!

    From my experience, it’s hard to show confidence that you are really good in blogging because when you are starting a blog, no one knows who you are, what you do, etc.

    When you start a job, you’ve been interviewed, already talked with people, etc, so you can go in and start at the level you are expected to be at, i.e. manager, etc.

    With blogging, it’s relatively new for most people, like starting a new career altogether…so if you start emailing top bloggers for advice without showing some respect and awe of them, they might not be as receptive.

  9. Anunturi says:

    Thank you Darren for this great article. A lot of good information for me to become a good blogger.

  10. Cecelia says:

    This is a tough one for me…everytime I see an awesome blog the fist thing I think is how far I have to go and what I don’t yet know as a blogger. I will try to take your advice and look at what I do have rather than what I don’t.

  11. Blogging is highly social, and it’s important to reach out and connect with other bloggers. However, when writing, one should definitely focus on what is interesting to them and just forget about other blogs.

  12. Gerat points, Darren. We sometimes tend to have problem with our blogs identity, but if we can’t describe strong points of our writing, how can we sell it to our visitors?

    With blogging it is like with almost everything – find what you are strong at, what you love to do, improve your knowledge & writing, share as much as possible. I can see many people writing average posts. It is better to find your own niche, learn a lot about it, become an expert and surprise your audience.

    If you found something great, wrote about it on your blog and then think it is blunt, then remind yourself your first excitement and I am sure your readers will feel the same.

  13. Laura G says:

    Wonderful post!

    I just have one question, and it’s a sort of personal one so I understand if you don’t want to answer, but can you tell us more about the self-defining, and blog-defining, processes? I try to go through and say “Forget external benchmarks — what have I got?” and… nothing.

  14. You hit it right on the head. Quite simply, to overcome ANY inferiority complex, focus on who you are rather than who you are not . . .

    As Sun Tzu said: “If you know others and you know yourself, you will never be in danger, even in a thousand battles.”

    Get to know yourself. You just might like what you see.

    MrAchievement
    Stanley Bronstein
    Attorney, CPA, Author, Blogger & Professional Motivational Speaker

  15. Darren,

    I want to commend you for addressing this issue. I’ve not seen it done elsewhere. Good food for thought and can’t wait to see the conclusion to the series.

    All the best,

    Cindy

  16. Preacher_33 says:

    You are an original baby!!! therefore be yourself. I write to educate and to set my thoughts free, If I try to be like some else than I just defeated the whole purpose of writing.

    “I’ll do me

    while
    you do you”

    Preacher_33

  17. Tyler says:

    Darren,

    Thank you for this inspiring piece. It lends confidence and optimism to those of us just starting out.

  18. One of the things that really helped me keep the inferiority complex away were my IRL friends who were also bloggers in my niche. They were the ones who encouraged me to start writing in the first place!
    Several of them are big names in our niche, and I felt a bit intimidated when I started. How could I compete with them? But they were wonderfully supportive and helpful, both in giving advice to me and in helping me promote my site. Instead of competing and comparing, I learned from them and grew on my own. They taught me any technical things I wanted to know, and gave advice on what and where and how to post.

    I really feel fortunate for that support system, because they kept me out of the inferiority complex hole. I wonder if its like that in other niches?

  19. Careerbright says:

    Good points there Darren. One more – the 12th question – that I would like to add here is on GOAL SETTING.
    As has been said “BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND”

    How do you perceive the success of your blog?
    What do you want to achieve- either monetary gain, information exchange, more traffic, getting famous – whatever is in your mind first define your expectations and set a goal.
    Work your way back and you will always be on track and disappointment lessens.

    And of course a positive attitude..
    - Shweta @ Careerbright

  20. Kenneth King says:

    Thanks Darren. Good advice on “keeping it real”. It’s not sexy, and probably won’t produce an overnight monetary success, but you can feel great about what you are writing, and it will be authentic. You can also rest assured that what you say will undoubtedly resonate with those who appreciate your sincerely and passion.

  21. Christina says:

    What a power-packed article, Darren!

    It seems to be that age-old saying, how do you look at the glass? Half -empty or half-full? It takes a little effort NOT to automatically think half-empty. For anyone interested in the Scriptures (and even if you’re not), there as well you’ll find the glass half-full counsel. “Think on these things…” (meaning the positives) is found in the New Testament.

    I had to laugh at your mention of a ’10 yr.old PC w/dial -up, etc….Hellooo! (sitting here waving my hand in the air!) Can I EVER relate! And I,too, come from public library computer origins….and I’m grateful I had that chance to get started learning computer.

    I was ready to give up blogging today, and now I feel completely different. Thank you so much for help and encouragement, Darren.

  22. Alison says:

    Thanks Darren. I am totally having a low-blog-esteem week and this helps. I find sometimes that I spend a lot of time looking at everyone else when I should just be writing! I am trying to work on my voice coming out in my blog… I am funny in person, but because of the subject I write about (celiac disease, gluten intolerance, food allergies), I feel like not all of me is coming through in the writing. Any advice?

  23. merlotmom says:

    Great post, Darren. Thanks again for addressing this topic and giving practical suggestions to improve our blogging (and life). I found your site when I began blogging a few months ago and it’s been incredibly valuable. Keep ‘em coming. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.

  24. Rob Brydon says:

    Point number six struck a chord with me and it also made me laugh.

    I like your exponential growth analogy.

  25. This is a GREAT post! I’ve been thinking of myself as a “little” blogger for quite a while, and your questions have gotten me thinking of myself just a little differently (and better).

    Thank you so much for posting this :)

  26. Great post and reminder. I think it gets real easy to slip into focusing on lack versus abundance especially when you get so fixated on the blog traffic numbers. I’ve had to learn to peel myself away from judging myself based on the blog stats. It’s kind of like stepping on the scale to see what you weigh. “Is is a good number day or not a good number day?”…What really matters is content, connections, and care.

  27. Thanks for another thoughtful post Darren. What you are saying is applicable to people’s lives, not just blogging.

    - Dave

  28. Muscle Post says:

    Thanks so much Darren! It is too easy sometimes to look at the negatives, but it’s so much more productive to look at the positives. We all get caught up with becoming a better blogger, but what we need to care about is providing the most valuable content we can for our readers.

  29. Still comes down to content. Have to actually have content, regardless of the topic, or people will not come back, or seek out the site for information. You can’t just slap up crap and hope to rock and roll. Need quality content, or some general content in general.


    Political Disgust

  30. Joe says:

    I think I’m still getting to know what I actually have after almost a year of blogging. It’s not always the easiest thing to admit you’re not the best at everything. Very informative though, I’ll have to do a little self-evaluation soon…

  31. What a great start, can’t wait to read the rest of it. Sometimes I don’t know how you keep coming up with such good info, but keep it up. I think re-evaluating a blog on a continuing basis is a good habit to get in to as you develop the blog or site.

  32. Gord says:

    I think it all comes down to doing your own “thing”. If you are passionate about what you are blogging about and put your own twist into it while creating interesting content you will eventually have a following of your own.

  33. Mr. Javo says:

    Wow, excellent recommendations Darren. I’m very positive too, but sometimes I have to say I can be a little negative. I will follow your tips to improve my blog/life.

  34. Great post Darren. Thank you!

    My view is that blogger inferiority complex arises because many try to compare their blogs with top ranking blogs. One way to overcome this issue is to start building relationships with blogs that have the same level of maturity as your own blog.

    By building from bottom up, you will appreciate the fact that you are making progress. The progress will be slow, but you will eventually get to the top.

  35. Jessica Bond says:

    Darren,

    Awesome advice that holds true for both bloggers and for people searching for a new job/career.

    You are…what you think you are…

    A positive view of yourself with great expectations for your life insures that you never limit your potential by thinking too small.

    All the best,
    Jessica Bond
    Medical Careerist

  36. Very good article!
    I like how you have given positives about each negative comment and remark people say!

    It is the difference between bank and bust!
    Thanks

  37. Sheri says:

    that long blog read very well and seemed much shorter. i think that was a good example.

  38. Louis Liem says:

    Focusing on what we have instead of what we don’t applies on every aspect of our life. No one’s perfect therefore no blog is. Just posted about a similar thing I learned from my friend..

  39. I loved this post. It really struck a chord with me, not only with blogging, but about everything in life (as some others have mentioned).

    I personally started to see these things several years ago when I started reading a lot of self-improvement books. Most people just don’t have the self-esteem, confidence and faith in themselves and what they can do. I know I didn’t. But these things can be cultivated and improved if you have the desire. This post hit the nail on the head, people generally focus on the negative things and ignore the positive. We all have so much to be grateful for, we are all unique and talented. Don’t concentrate on your weaknesses. Focus on your strengths, and make them outstanding.

    One book that I read, a classic published in 1960, changed the way I viewed myself and my abilities dramatically. That book is “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz. I don’t mean to hijack this post, so that’s all I’m going to say about it. Check it out on Amazon or something and read the reviews if you are interested.

    I don’t play the game of comparing myself to others, and I don’t compare my blog to others. I am unique and a bit quirky and it seems to amuse people. I don’t know if they are laughing at me or with me, but I don’t really care. I know people who are also weird/funny/quirky who try to downplay it. I think you should use these things to your advantage. It will make you and your blog more interesting.

  40. Blogonsite says:

    very inspiring.. but scary like mother complex or oedipus complex, hannibal lechter maybe :)

  41. Kurt Schmitt says:

    If you feel inferior and then act that way, you’re simply feeding your own ego’s need to be seen as inferior. This reinforces that feeling and you end up proving yourself correct. “See, I’m inferior.”

    If you take yourself out of the equation and simply come to the show with a spirit of contribution and truly offer something of value, you take your work to the next level. You may still feel inferior, but you don’t let that get in the way of your contribution.

    You can then make statements that, surprisingly, others will find useful. This is true even if some members of your audience disagree with what you say.

    Feeling inferior and acting inferior are two different things.

  42. Ulla says:

    Darren,
    thanks for this posting – and for your blog in general. It is very important to read about other people and their feelings toward their blogs. It shows me that I am not the only one with “wrong feelings”. The forum you offer here is very, very helpful for me. And the possibility to learn about other blogs is also great.

  43. This is such great advice. If you keep thinking, and thinking not only ahead but to the past, you are sure to succeed.

  44. @Kurt Schmitt
    Great words of encouragement!

    @Jessica Bond
    Not only good advice for bloggers and people looking for a job, but also good advice for everyone everywhere in all aspects of life!

    Think about it if you live you life focusing on what you have and how happy you are, you are going to be in a far better place than one doing the opposite.

  45. Ryan McLean says:

    This is very encouraging as I do suffer from this. When you start blogging you feel as if you are wasting your time because no one is coming to your blog and you aren’t seeing much progress.
    Building upon what you have not just wishing you were as popular as someone else is a great help to me.
    Thanks Dazza

  46. Avinash says:

    A real eye opener Darren. Looking forward to the remaining post.

  47. Hammad says:

    thanks for posting this darren
    excellent information

  48. Berry says:

    Thanks Darren your posts encouraged me to do something better and not to surrender if we couldn’t achieve something as we wanted.I realized that blogging need special efforts,this is bot one night job to get tons of links.

  49. suresh says:

    Good to see the angle of many bloggers mind.
    After all we are all human beings with mixed bag of emotions.
    The inferiority used to be high for a new blogger and specially at the early days of blogging where you are working very hard and no one is coming to see your blog.
    Well bloggers have to be focussed on content and leave the rest for time.
    Great post .

  50. Mark says:

    Daren,

    This is really a nice mini series of post that you have started. I believe that
    many of the newbie’s come into the blogging field mainly because of the hope of
    making Big Money and to leave there J-O-B behind and start working from
    convenience of there home. But reality is blogging is not that easy. As you have
    to choose some niches and many-a-times you might not be that interested in a
    particular niche but still you have to work on it as again that niche presents a
    hope of big profits and good traffic but again patience is required. In the
    meantime all these newbie blogger keep on visiting there mentor’s who are
    dominating the keyword which they have targeted and at times it creates a
    complex. But Nice piece of advice given

    Keep up the good work